Successful blogging demands more than just raw talent for writing. In the ever-competitive blogosphere, your words, advice, and insight must stand out among hundreds of blogs about the same things. Beyond that, blogging is less like keeping a diary and more like running a marketing campaign (sometimes, it’s entirely like running a marketing campaign, because you’re using your blog as a marketing tool).
With that in mind, I’ve put together some of the most important things you need to know about successful blogging and how to get there.
1. Search Engine Optimization – Effective and Ethical SEO
SEO, overall, is the process of developing your content in such a way that you get your posts out to more people, and those people get them out to even more, until you have built your following. It is measured by how far down your blog post(s) appear in the search results for your topic. There are a lot of aspects that go into SEO, and there are entire blogs created just for helping people learn how to do it, but I’ll touch on some of the basics here.
Some key points are to use the right keywords and key phrases (specific, natural, and, preferably, without stop-words), to put them in key places (in titles, headings, slugs, meta-descriptions, in your first paragraph, and throughout your posts), and to use ethical and honest SEO practice to increase your ranking. Tricks and traps may increase your ranking temporarily, but they show your readers that you’re dishonest and will hurt your reputation in the end. As with most things, it’s much better to do the work and reap the rewards than to try to find a shortcut.
2. Pain Points – What Makes Your Readers Tick?
A “pain point” is a need your readers have or the question they are looking to you to answer. They are the reason you blog. Or, at least, they should be. Do you understand what your audience is trying to learn from you, and are you delivering quality answers to their questions?
Read through your posts and ask yourself what the pain point(s) of each one is/are. If you can’t answer that, take some time to reassess what you are trying to say with your post. Figure out what the main focus of the post should be and how to best answer the question that would lead your readers to your blog for an answer, then build your content (and your SEO) around that.
3. Niches – Successful Blogging Needs Focus
Your niche is simply the subject about which you blog. However, defining that subject is essential to building a following and to creating content that your readers want to read. A multi-subject blog without a unifying genre comes across as disorganized. Your readers can’t consider you an authority on the subject they’re interested in if you write about fifty other subjects that don’t relate to the post they’re reading.
Niches can be as narrow or as broad as you like, as long as they are tied together by a common thread. For instance “business blogging” could include posts about successful blogging methods, marketing strategies, and how to close a sale, but these are all contained under the umbrella of “business topics.” “Lifestyle blogging” could be about anything from recipes to childrearing to which shopping centers offer the best deals, and it’s all tied together. Niche writing doesn’t have to mean “I only write about this one particular sub-topic” unless you want it to.
4. Evergreen Content – Is Your Post Relevant?
Seasonal posts are a great way to generate interest in your blog because they appeal to readers’ needs in the moment. But what happens when that moment passes? “Evergreen content” is content that is always relevant, and it’s what your readers will be reading once your seasonal post is past its prime. Make sure you have plenty of it.
If you write a beauty blog, it’s a good idea to include some general skin care articles or health and beauty tie ins to keep your readers coming back when the colors change and the trends change with them. For business, consider some general marketing strategies that work year-round to fill in for holiday-themed marketing tips. It’s all relative to your niche, but there are “evergreen” topics in all shapes and sizes. What does your blog offer to off-season readers?
5. A/B Testing – Learn About Your Audience
“A/B Testing” is the practice of improving your reach by learning what your audience responds to. Instead of trying the same techniques over and over with all of your audience, try testing two ideas at once. Separate your subscribers into two groups, then approach each group differently. Once you get your feedback, or clickthrough rates, or open rates back, compare the results.
By doing this you determine which marketing and content approaches work best for the people who read your posts, and you can adjust them accordingly. Anything from effective headlines to subscriber email subjects to advertisement placement can be measured with A/B testing. Your audience is the best source of information about your audience; listen to them!
Now that you have a grasp on some of the background concepts that go into successful blogging, you can get to the fun part: writing your blog! Make sure to implement these best practices in your next few posts and see how much of a difference it makes in your following and your reader engagement. A small change can make all the difference. For more information about the power of well-crafted content, check out Why Content is Still King.